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Tackling Inequality Learning Circle: Asylum Seeker Health Rights During COVID-19

Profile of Australian Communities Foundation
Hosted by Australian Communities Foundation
09 June 2020

Social distancing not an option: The immediate risks to detained asylum seekers

Detained asylum seekers are unable to practice the social distancing required to minimise the risks of COVID-19 infection: sleeping in small, shared rooms; eating in overcrowded food halls; sharing bathrooms; and interacting constantly with external staff. Many men and women in detention are at heightened risk of serious illness because they are living with specific comorbidity factors like diabetes, renal conditions, certain cancers and respiratory issues.

The evidence from analogous closed environments like cruise ships, prisons and aged care facilities is clear – even when mitigation measures are put in place, COVID-19 moves quickly and aggressively through the population with potentially catastrophic outcomes. As a result, there remain serious concerns about the immediate risks to detained asylum seekers: and for the potential of an outbreak in detention that would undo the success of our efforts in controlling the virus in the community.

Join us to hear from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre whose Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project team is working to secure a humane standard of healthcare during COVID-19 for asylum seekers detained onshore in Australia’s harsh immigration detention network.


Tuesday 9 June 2020
12pm – 1pm


Jonathon Hunyor – CEO, Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Jonathon has practised law for over 20 years in NSW and the Northern Territory, in areas including criminal law, discrimination and human rights, migration and refugee law and Aboriginal land rights. Prior to joining PIAC is 2016, Jonathon was the Principal Legal Officer at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in Darwin from 2010-2016; Director of Legal Services at the Australian Human Rights Commission; and worked as a lawyer at the Central Land Council in Alice Springs and the NT Legal Aid Commission in Darwin. Jonathon is a Director of the Australian Pro Bono Centre, has taught discrimination law at the University of NSW and has published widely in academic and professional journals.

Jane Leibowitz – Senior Solicitor, Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Jane has led the Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project since its inception in 2016, having joined PIAC as a senior solicitor in 2012. The project seeks to ensure that immigration detainees are afforded healthcare that is commensurate with Australian community standards. Before PIAC, Jane was the Director of Policy at the National Immigrant Justice Centre in Chicago and co-chair of the Department of Homeland Security/NGO working group. Before Jane lived in the US, she was the Pro Bono Coordinator for Minter Ellison’s Sydney office overseeing clinical programs and casework.


This learning circle will be hosted on Zoom. To register, follow the ‘join the event’ link below and enter your details.

Please note that this session may be recorded. If you do not wish to appear on video, please ensure your video is disabled for the duration of the session.

Image credit: Public Interest Advocacy Centre via Flickr